The Dodgers are looking for a replacement outfielder following Cody Bellinger’s departure to the Chicago Cubs.
With Tyler Anderson now with the Angels and Walker Buehler likely to miss the season as he recovers from reconstructive elbow surgery, they would welcome another starting pitcher.
Dave Roberts has identified another problem for the Dodgers to address, only there is no obvious solution to this problem.
Nearly two months after his team’s post-season exit at nearby Petco Park, Roberts offered a disturbing look back at what unfolded in that National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres.
“As a manager, you never want to say someone wants it more than you do because I think that speaks to the prep part of it, the mental part of it,” Roberts said. “But I will say that you look at that dugout compared to our dugout, there was more intensity there.”
On day two of baseball’s winter meetings, Roberts expressed suspicion that the level-headed approach that resulted in a franchise-record 111 wins kept the team from playing with the urgency required in October.
“I think there’s some truth to that,” Roberts said.
This was less a criticism of his players and more a call to arms. Roberts said it was his responsibility to get his players to face the situation.
“It starts with me,” Roberts said. “I can do better.”
But do the Dodgers have the right personalities in their clubhouse?
Your two best position players, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, are introverts.
Their most respected player, Clayton Kershaw, is a starting pitcher who plays once every five days.
Their leader, Justin Turner, is a free agent by default.
“I think we’re doing a very good job in the regular pre-season [for] every game, wash away good, wash away bad, try to win a ballgame,” Roberts said. “But surely the postseason has to be … higher stakes.”
Before the Dodgers were eliminated in Game 4 of the NLDS, Betts was asked if he noticed an increased sense of urgency on the team.
“I think it feels the same way,” Betts said. “We can’t start to put any additional pressure on, especially from within. There is a lot outside. You cannot build up additional pressure from within. Like I said, it’s the same game we’ve been playing since February.”
February, as in spring training.
The Dodgers don’t have Bryce Harper or Kyle Schwarber like the NL champion Philadelphia Phillies.
They don’t have Juan Soto or Manny Machado like the Padres.
The more colorful personalities from the team’s 2020 championship season, curtailed by the pandemic, play elsewhere, as Joc Pederson plays with the San Francisco Giants and Kiké Hernandez with the Boston Red Sox.
In her absence, the team has become more balanced and no-nonsense, traits that have helped the team weather a midseason slump and weather a spate of injuries.
But did that backfire in October?
Andrew Friedman, the president of the baseball operations team, was open to Roberts’ theory.
“Obviously he was in a much better place for that than I was,” Friedman said. “I think part of that is, was there a lack of intensity? If yes why? If we had scored a big hit with a runner in goal position, would that have increased the intensity in the dugout? I don’t really know the answer to any of these things.”
When asked if that was an issue the Dodgers would have to deal with this winter, Friedman replied, “I have a feeling, yeah, we wanted to change it up a bit.”
Except that Friedman and Roberts have hinted that they plan to add the next wave of prospects to their list, which would put them in a position to get under the luxury tax threshold but not address their personality issue.
Roberts pointed out how Freeman fought .357 in the NLDS.
“I think the reason Freddie struck [was] because he’s been doing it his whole career,” Roberts said. “He’s not taking a pitch. And that can be applied to any situation.
“How do we get that filtered through the whole clubhouse? That is the question. That’s something we’re going to talk about quite a bit.”
The problem is clear. It’s not the solution.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-12-07/dodgers-dave-roberts-dylan-hernandez Column: Are Dodgers players intense enough for postseason success?